Money Makes the World Go Around or Does It?

By Samoan Barish

In Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw says “There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire.  The other is to get it.”

And Carl Sandburg says “Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of all blessings.”

Everett Mamor continues in this vein telling us that “Money is a headache. And money is the cure”

Lionel Trilling  said, “Money is both real and not real, like a spook”

All these quotes, to my mind, capture the paradoxical nature of money., and  necessarily  direct our attention to the muddle that  swirls about money. So, come along with me as we all try and make our way through this jumble..

During the late summer while I was visiting a dear friend who lives in Costa Rico I had the following dream. I’m with some other people and we are talking about my patient Valerie’s husband . We are all agreement and we are saying that since Valerie’s husband has made, and is still making ,so much money, why doesn’t he finally stop? He has enough; in fact, he has so much more than enough. Now why doesn’t he do something socially worthwhile with his money.  The dream goes on to many different scenes. In one scene we’re going with Valerie’s new   baby to a restaurant.  The baby seems much older than he actually should be and I’m trying to figure this out in the dream. We’re enjoying being with the baby, we’re feeding him and a number of people hold him.  In one of the last parts of the dream Ann’s husband comes to join the group and he is accompanied by someone who seems to be his bodyguard. Almost as if her husband is a Mafia type. They’re not happy with us having the baby and want to take the baby home.

This dream I hasten to add, was before the  height of the subprime mortgage crises , the other subsequent financial meltdowns, and all the  serious economic woes and hardships that have spread across the country.and to differing extents have affected us all.

Of course this manifest, not to mention latent,  content is overdetermined as are all dreams, but for my purposes today, I’d like to focus on this matter of  when  is enough  enough; particularly in financial terms. I hope to discuss my values and some of yours  around having money, making money,, what one does with ones money , and how one thinks about money both in general and in specific terms. If we amass money does that makes us Mafia types?   And does the infant thrive on being surrounded by people who love him or on his parents having great wealth? And does money trump warmth and love?  Do the father’s avariciousness  preclude affection?  Since the baby seems so much .older than he actually is in the dream and in real life, does that suggest we are dealing with Ferenczi’s” wise baby” whose thinking about this whole money business and where it fits into life and a life well lived.?, And ,perhaps most importantly, what about  doing something socially worthwhile with ones money, as the dream suggests? And where does looking at our social responsibility in regard to money fit in, or does it??    How do we balance our needs, requirements, desires  and appetities with our sense of morality ,justice ,fairness ,etc.? In short, how do we think about money and what does that say both about us and the culture that we  are all a part of , whether we like it or not..

I presented another version of this paper at an IFPE Conference whose theme was “danger and desire in the Analytic Situation” Upon hearing the theme, I immediately  associated to money with its concomitant dangers and desires.  This seemed very strange to me, since money is the last topic I ever thought I would write about.

Why is it an unlikely topic for me to write about and why then have I decided to write about it?  During late adolescence, I arrived at a conscious personal, political and social decision about money.  Namely, that I would try to not be preoccupied with making money and would minimize its importance in my life. This was a departure from the milieu I grew up in with my parent’s anxiety, impulsiveness and disorganization around money.

My husband and I have always worked and he has held a secure tenured  academic position throughout most of our marriage. I was never been put into a moral dilemma regarding exploiting others to obtain money. Although, we would never be wealthy, we always had a good enough income stream.  In short, I felt I was more or less home free on the money front, even though at times I was aware of being envious of those that had more financial resources than we., and resenting   .Abort Camas tells us “It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money”.

Then, about three years ago, a beautiful twice divorced woman in her early 30’s with an adolescent daughter, walked into my office and soon after all my previously held righteous positions about money came into question.  Valerie came from a working class family. She recalls with poignancy when as a child she suddenly realized what it meant that her father had to take cheese sandwiches to his construction job every day, because they can’t afford anything else, And how she had to wear boys hand me down clothes, recalling that the kids in school would make fun of her which made her feel even worse. As she grew older she learned how to design her own wardrobe. She recalled the sense of disappointment and deprivation she felt when she didn’t get an Easter basket. The family’s limited resources had the effect of separating them from other people in town, and were accompanied by a sense of shame. She’s said many times during our three years together, “There was always us and them” Valerie recently told me how , as a child, she used to pray to God to give them money. Valerie felt that the anxiety in the family pivoted around the root cause of lack of money.

Valerie was, and is an extraordinarily pretty girl and woman, and boys sought her out, which always meant a lot to her. She married young and had a child before she was 20years old. .At the time she came to see me, she was in an intense new relationship, in the process of falling in love with a multi-millionaire. She became engaged to him after a rocky courtship and they bought a mansion, had a magnificent and extravagant wedding, a grand European honeymoon and she became pregnant with her second child. Certainly, this was a dramatic change in her social class, resulting in privilege and power for her in short order.

Being a witness to the implications of such great wealth turned out to be a real eye opener for me. .I had never before recognized the effects of having such easy access to goods, services and the resulting security it provides. This was beyond anything

I’d ever imagined. I saw how much was possible for someone who has wealth.

So much that had been utterly inconceivable in her earlier life.  The plentitude, abundance, and limitlessness were utterly astonishing to me.  How was Valerie learning to deal with her new found wealth, and what was I to make of all of this?

In short, my encounters and ongoing work with Valerie has catapulted me into an unfamiliar area of dealing with the personal and social implications of having money, and in her case great wealth. I welcome audience participation in this endeavor.

John Bernville (In the Sea p.207) main character, asks, while musing about his life after the death of his wife, “What is money, after all? Almost nothing, when one has a sufficiency of it”.

The exposure to Valerie and her sensational rise in status and class, led me to think about money in ways I had never considered before.  Being a person who was not fundamentally organized around money, and has always been concerned  with the underdog and  the have nots in the world , I had to acknowledge to myself the symbolic and actual power and responsibility of having such wealth represents in our capitalistic culture. And I had to face my enormous ambivalence around money in a way I had never had to before. This is an example of something we all talk about. Namely, doing this work opens us up to new challenges, and hopefully ongoing growth… In this case, I have to confront and work with my feelings about money; something clearly I had been avoiding and denying my whole life. For me personally, looking at my attitudes towards money is a manifestation of my becoming, at this late date, more grown up.

Psychoanalysis theory has a lot to say about money; its unconscious meanings and particularly the many dilemmas that arise around charging fees. Sociologists have contributed to our understanding the meaning of money in our culture.   In my presentation, I will selectively review some of these relevant ideas. I will also talk about my own attitudes toward money in the interpersonal clinical situation,  transferentially and counter-transferentially.

My presentation will explore the multiform meanings of money.  I will investigate my evolving attitude towards money and I  invite you to think about and share your  attitudes.  For me, I cannot think about money without understanding the structurally oppressing societal nature of it and its distributive injustices.  There are deep moral issues to be considered. Indeed Andre Samuels posits that even for those people who are finacially well off, are adversely effected by living in an unfair system.

In  a review of an ibition at The Morgan Library here in NYC,(Sat. 1/31/09 NYTies) “On the Money;Cartoons for The New Yorker, Edward Rothstein makes the following cogent and relevant argument.” This exhibit shows how much desire,need, energy,faith and fantasy are invested in these scraps of paper, how thoroughly the social world (at least our capitalist ecomony)depends on them, and how precarious their power really is. ..Indeed, the complexities of economic theory dissolve into more pungent currency of social relations,status, snobbery, pretense, pride, distilling finance to its human essence.”

Although money has no intrinsic value, it must be seen in it’s historical, social and political context. To be sure, it is a means of exchange  taking us beyond the barter system, it contains aspects of power (interpersonal and otherwise), provides a certain level of freedom to ones life, but also brings with it kind of responsibility

In keeping with my growing understanding of the pardoxical nature of money, the Sociologist  Marcia Millman (Warm Hearts and Cold Cash(1991)  while investigating the connection between family dynamics, intimacy and money, tells us (p.43) “Money is a double edged –sword.  It is alienating ;t trivializes what is most personal and unique, but it also liberates ….In relationships, money provides freedom…”

It can also be the basis of personal autonomy”  Both because of money’s plasticity, (in fact,  our credit cards are literally plastic) and its embeddedness in our emotional and early family life,  it can change itself into many different things much like a chemoleon can change its shape, form and color..;thereby  graphically demonstrating the  complex symbolic nature of money.


Money in a market economy is about power and values and inevitably permeates our most intimate relationships. Further, it tends to define us and becomes intertwined with our sense of ourselves , our worth and indeed ,our very identity.

Most of us are  familiar with Marx’s and Simmels ideas about the “cash nexus” and their belief that money corrupts. Money makes capitalism possible because it reduces everything to the status of a commodity- including the most important commodity, labor power .Money sets in motion an alienation  from ourselves and our labor… Alienation as distancing is central to capitalist consumer culture because if it the locus and driving force of  desire The capitalist consumer culture depends upon our never being satisfied… Commodification is the name of the game! Ironically Marx thought that only air and water could not be commodified  Sadly he was wrong. I’m reminded of Saul Bellow’s novel, Henderson the Rain King in which our picaresque hero, ever searching for something finds himself in remote Africa becoming both a captive and a hero to  a succession of tribes,. All the while “A ceasless voice in  my heart  says, I want, I want, I want, Oh I want.”  Henderson was simply unable to adhere to Walt Witman’s sage advice, “It’ enough to just be”. No, Henderson talks about a relentless need that takes the form of “I want, I want. It hardly ever lets me alone, but it doesn’t declare what it wants that imprisioned want.”.

Of course there is always resistence to complete domination by the commodity form and thus by money. There are many things we all do that reassert  control over own  lives; investigating some of these economic paradigms is  certainly one way . I remind you all that Andrew Samuels (Politics on the Couch-2001 Other Press,chpt. The Economic Psyche) tells  us that “The personal is not only political, but also economic”.  Further, he goes on to describe any number of different models of market economics, beyond the old familiar ones of free market vs. government planned economies. Alternative economic ides such as : economies built around sustainable growth, or redistributive wealth or environmental principles,etc,

Viviana Zelizer in The Social Meaning Of Money”Princton U. Press,1997)

Argues against the notion that,”  money is a single, interchangeable, absolutely impersonal instrument—-  She posits that  people have reshaped their commercial transactions,introduced new distinctions, invented their own special forms of currency, ear marked money in ways that baffle economic theorists, therby incorporating  money into personalized webs of friendship, family relations,, interactions with authorities,etc.” In short, she tells us she doesns’t subscribe to Gertrude Steins adage that “Whether you like it or whether you do not ,money is money and that is all there is about it”

Rather, Zelizer elaborates on the phenomona of earmarking money that she believes is a powerful ongoing  force countering the tide of devasting commercialism. .For ex. She tells us money won from thelottery is different that ones ordinary paycheck or from an inhereitence..Even with forms of legal tender having changed such as electronic payments and new internationalized curriences ,earmaking  continues (eg There are still special club accounts-Chistmas money, vacation money, college tuitions plans starting from a childs birth,etc.

Zelizer believes that people create never ending ways  to personalize money in order to meet their complex social needs”

Although some writers disagree about the degree of fungible of money, still for the most part, all see money as fungible, inheritably changeable, and highly symbolic.

Marcia Millman (Warm Hearts and Cold Cash. Free Press, NYC1991)interviewed many people about the role that money has played in their family relationships;looking  particularly at the possible connections between love and money. .Money and love become so mixed up that people are frequently confused about their own motives and desires.

Millman tells us “It’s foolish to pretend that money is irrelevant to love. In a market economy, money is not only power, but also the ultimate measure of value; thusly insinuating itself into even the most intimate settings. Money, which can turn itself into anything, seeps”deeply into the realm of feelings” I’m reminded of the Beattles song “Money Don’t buy you Love”. And my mind jumps to a  recent review of an art show of cartoon about money. In one cartoon(1997) “A jaded couple sit in a lunge. Let’s face it, the wife drawls, the moneys gone out of our marriage”!

The philosopher Jacob Needleman (Money and  The Meaning Of  Life, Doubleday, 1991,1994) suggests that “the money question becomes a nearly indispensable help in the long work of bringing unity into our selves and our lives,” and recommends  that we   try to understand the” role money plays  for us in the search for a meaningful life”}.He posits that there are two fundamental opposing motivations of human life; quest for transcendence and the need to function well in everyday life.”  Neeedleman seeks in this book to inquire about the relationship between the quest for money and the quest for meaning suggesting that “our relation to money can become a potent instrument in the search for self knowledge”  Money is intrinsically a principle of reconciliation, of the harmonization of disparate elements…  W need to understand money before we allow ourselves any moral stance at all.

Hillman follows suit when exploring the external and internal/spiritual aspects of ourselves in relation to money.  He tells us “The soul need to be kept from flying off into only the psychic reality.” “Money holds soul in the veil of the world ,in the poetry of the concrete.(Lockheart and Hillman, “Soul and Money”, out of print){

Since money appears to bes implicatd in every aspect of our lives,let’s look at a quick run down of what psychoanalysis has had to say about money.

I start with Freud’s oft quoted  pronouncement  (1913) that “money questions will be treated by cultured people in the same manner as sexual matters, with the same inconsistency, prudishness and hypocrisy”

Freud, according to Dimen in her brilliantly argued paper, Money, Love and Hate; Contradiction and Paradox in Psychoanalysis” (Psychoanalytic Dialogues,4(1);69-100)which I will refer to throughout my presentation, had a distinctly incomplete theoretical formulation about money. Namely, (1913)” While money has a narcissistic dimension, it is in the first instance… a medium of self –preservation and for obtaining power…powerful sexual factors are (also) involved in the value set on it. He goes on to develop his  familiar notion of  the analyst leasing his time and setting his fee as a practical considerations for a person living in the real world..

Freud’s followers went on to think about “money and its relation to development, character and pathology” “Abraham(1921) and Jones(1918) addressed money’s place within anality to money  represents a socially useful reaction formations to repressed anal eroticism. competitiveness”}

Fenichel (1938) ,( as quoted by Ann Ruth Turkel,in Money as a Mirror of Marriage)i went on to elaborate upon Freud’s notion of money being linked with feces, by stating that money can symbolize anything once can give or takes; milk, breast, baby ,sperm, penis, protection, gift, power, anger or degradation. He viewed money as a source of narcissitc supply originating in an instinctual need for food and for omnipotence.

Dimen goes on to point out that both  Ferenzci(1914 and Fenichel (1938) had a political as well as psychoanalytic views about money. For ex. Fenichel suggested that anal erogeneity is made use of and strengthened , by a social system that’s based on the accumulation of wealth and competitiveness .And Ferenczi, for his part, suggested that “the capitialistic instinct contains both an egoistic and an analerotic component, standing at the disposal of the reality principle, “the delight in gold and the possession of money…..also satisfies the pleasure-principle. In translating  Ferenczi’s wise  formulations,, to present day, I think we can safely say that the money marketers  have run amok and engaged in vicious capitalism in their quest for gold.! And of course , we’re not only talking about the titans  of Wall St., but also trying to open up a space to talk about   each of ours ”delight in gold”.

Eissler(1974) is of the opinion that money engenders ” irrational attitudes , both in the form of “overrating or underrating its meaning and importance”, thereby concluding that money is such a  particularly complex matter that it can not be treated sufficiently in even the best of psychoanlysitc treatments .Also,in the same article  he elaborates on the very thorny  matter of fees, and countertransference of such{. In fact, there is a rather extensive body of lit. on the myriad of permutations involved in fee setting, and the overall matter of fees as part and parcel of the analytic, therapeutic arrangement, engendering a plethora of transference and counter transference reactions. } Dimen, in particular, in earlier mentioned article explores the terrain of charging fees and , the inevitable paradoxes it creates and the  profound impact it has on  the therapeutic relationship especially around tranference and countertransference issues  These are dilemmas we all routinely face, and I dare say struggle with everyday  of our working lives,as therapists. Although in todays presentation  I will not be focusing on this area.


Today , I’m suggesting, we set ourselves the necessary, albeit, difficult  task of  exploring the manifold  unconscious ,emotional, familial, social, political, cultural , philosophical components involved in our attitudes towards money.   I think we will see that there is a continuous push/pull quality in our attitudes towards money. .We’ll be attempting to tune into the pulse of our psychic and communal life and the rhythms of how we think, work, play and struggles over money.


So, just what is our attitude toward money and how does it originate? To a large extent , of course these attitudes originate in quite early childhood., learned within the context of our family, eventually becoming shaped by the broader social world we live in. How did our respective families deal with giving and getting,; providing and withholding? To what extend was  affection ,love and material objects  freely flowing ,and to what extent were these emotions and physical , material outlays in  short supply?     How were needs, longings, responded to? What was the family’s actual financial situation and how was this conveyed to the child, and what effect did it have?  From the child’s point of view did everyone more or less get the same, or were there vast differences? Did money and things contribiute to the child or parents sense of worth and importance, and value? Was money used to wield unfair or excessive  power over others in the family?  And so on. You can quickly see, how these early matters of deprivation or abundence and fullness continue to inform our feelings about money throughout our lives. Recall the tremendous impact the familys attitude toward money had on my patient Valerie.

Andrew Samuels suggests we “conduct an emotional audit of ourselves and the effect on us of living in an unfair economic system.; In the workshops that he and his collegues conducted,  the Economic Psyche was  investigated in four categories. Economics past –

What was your first ecom memory about $..How was money dealt with n your family? What class did you family belong to and how did they feel about it?

Economics present – Have you done better than your parents? Or Worse? How do you feel about it?  How open are you about money? How do you handle money in your personal relationships? Economics Benevolent- How much more tax would you be willing to pay? Economics Shameful- or economics sadistc, Fantasize about the most shameful, horrible thing you would if you had large sums of money.  Provacative food for thought for all of us.  Let’s all try and think about the answers to these questions for ourselves and for some of our patients. He will be fleshing this out more in his plenary talk on Sunday. Do come..

In what follows I will try and distill and interweave my attitudes towards money with my newly weatlhy patients attitudes toward money. In so doing, I think we will all see, the stop and go lurching quality that seems to accompany much of our views about money.

I’l start with a general overlay of my views and family experience around money.  My grandmother who was born before the beginning of the last century and came to this country when she was 3 years old, had many aphorisms which she’d  rather strongly adhered to and rather freely imposed upon us. One such saying , and one that most of you have probably heard some variation of,  I recall from my adolescence on was “ It’s as easy to fall in  love, /or marry a rich man as a poor man”. The message was clear

She was ambitious for her children n and grandchildren and wanted them all to be successful Hers, and to a large extent, my parents definition of “success”  was to be in some profession and to make money.  “Doing well” essentially meant making a lot of money; something that was to elude my family over the generations.  My father, a salesman, in an era where they could make a lot of money, did very well financially, but was impulsive and disorganized around money. My father would always complain that my mother spent too much money and was careless around money(ways I am as well);all the while he was impulsive and disorganized around money; never budgeting or planning  ahead,.  He was a  Damon Runon type who  liked to gamble and life the high life.{ Something my grandmother disapproved of.}  My father frequently complained about the ongoing , indeed, never ending outlay of money the children required. .He felt burdened  and very likely resented his financial responsibilities.

My mother wanted more money, and was envious and jealous of their friends who did have more money.. She would talk about wanting to feel more  financially secure, a position she was never to attain..  Both my parents made constant comparisons of their lot in life as regards money and others who seemed to have more. Besides wanting more money and being envious and resentful and critical of others you had more, they never seemed to evolve in their posture towards money. An atmosphere  of dissatisfaction, anxiety and resentment  around money permeated the family. Despite all their anxiety about money, I lived a fully middle class life in NYC

We lived in a small, by todays standanrd, apartment.  My mother always had a weekly cleaning lady and  my mother had her weekly trips to the beauty parlor. There was money spent on outings,and  entertainment for everyone in the family. Dressing well was important to my family and there were many clothes shopping excursions… I, was  responsibly taken to the doctor, had the full complement of dancing lessons and piano lessons,etc. Went to camp each summer, and so on.

By way

Of comparison my patient Valerie, of course many years younger than I , came from a much poorer family. in a rural area living  near  a small town.{ As I mentioned earlier, as if it were a model scene ripe with symbolic meaning, is her oft repeated moment of awareness when she put it together that her father having to take cheese sandwhiches everyday to his construction job meant that they were poor;quite poor} .  My patient, the oldest of three and the only girl was expected to do many chores from a very young age;no one came to clean their house. Her parents were very young when she was born; her mother was not yet 17 years old and her father was barely a few years older.  They themselves came from large families with very limited financial sources. V’s parents were overwhelmed with the requirements of having to make a living and supporting their three children. V’s mother was ,they now realize seriously bi polar, she was volatile and unpredictable in her moods, placed excessive demands and expectations upon  her daughter requiring her to perform household chores and childcare duties far beyond  what would be appropriate for her age.  V was never able to be  a carefree  child. The family was seriously strapped for money ; little was spent on the children and they were almost never taken to the doctore for check ups or when they were ill, unless it was deemed very serious. .  It simply wasn’t the families way to look after the children in that manner. V’s parents were  stretched and stressed  and clearly overwhelmed by the demands  of being adults and responsible for their children. To make matters even worse, her parents marriage was in serious difficulty, and their was terrible tension in the family Her parents finally divorced when V was 15 years old. One of V’s few positive memories is being proud of her mother’s sewing abilities and the fact that her mother made her several dresses Before her teens, she got a job, and spent her money on clothes learning the styles and finding she had a gift for creatively putting clothes together. During Valeries’ growing up years,” “Money was such an issue. It caused such problems It separated us from other people..“There were so many elements of shame” When V was about 6 or 7  years old, her mother went to work, and according to V , her mother focused more on herself then ever,  taking better care of herself and buying herself  pretty new clothes. All the while, V and her brothers continued to wear hand me down clothes. V shared an ongoing fantasy then  when she grew up and got married and had children, she would give her kids many more things than she  ever had.  The family felt inferior to the wealthy people in the town, and  were treated thusly, knowing their place  in the social world.. It’s as if they were invisable and of no worth.  “I GOT THROUGH LIFE IMAGINING BETTER”   She says “There was Us and there was Them” There were stores in this small town that she and her family would never dream of entering; indeed she could sense how uncomfortable her father was even with the prospect of having to go to town.V’s father to this day, although an intelligent, hardworking  and steadfast man feels of little value and always puts himself down; particularly in relation to  more powerful wealthier people. Certainly being from a lower class family in her milieu has had a defining impact on Valerie.

Valerie was a smart, creative and exceptionally pretty girl and developed a sense of wanting to be more and have more, in both financial and emotional terms..She yearned for pretty things and for attention. From late latency on, she was neither without a boyfriend. She became sexually promiscuous in her early teens (Around 7,8 years of age,she had been sexually grouped by a friends minister grandfather and had a number of sexual encounters with her cousin where she was caught, punished and horribly ashamed.. In fact “whippings” was the standard form of punishments for any infractions, just as her parents before her had been punished  by their parents.. V said they didn’t know any different or any better.   By he early teens, when her parents were separating, she had been pretty much left on her own. She became promiscuous and had several abortions. Finally, her father took her to live with him and helped reign her in. She has been eternally grateful for his intervention. .V realized she had a sense of style, she sewed, learned how to put clothes and herself together in way that was pleasing to her and to others.  She devoted a great deal of energy and time to her looks; her skin, her hair, her  body, her figure, her clothes In that regard I am reminded of sociologistsCarolyn Steedman’s work. (Landscape For A Good Woman .Rutgers U Press, 1991)  where she  movingly recounts her childhood growing up with her working class mother in England in the 50’s.  Stedman writes about “ people’s complexity of relationship to the historical situations they inherit.”  In her rendering of her and her mother’s accounts, I saw striking parrallles to Valerie during her growing up and  into her adult years Stedman reviews her mother’s life through the prism  of her working class status. Her mother aspired for more and she felt the envy and exclusion that accompanied her class status. Both Valerie and Stedman’s mother, although a generation  a nd a half apart, and living in different countries and very different locales, both were intent on “making good, developing their style, capitalizing on their beauty. Both were filled with social fairy tales about making good.  And Valerie did what Stedman describes her mother as having done. “My mother did what the powerless, particularly powerless women, have done before, and do still: she worked on her body, the only bargaining power she ended up with, given the economic times and the culture in which she grew.” (P.141)

Steedman says (p38) My mother knew where we stood in relation to this world of privilege and possession. ..we learned through magazines and anecdotes how the goods of that world of privilege might be appropriated, with the cut and fall of a skirt, a good winter coat, fine leather shoes, a certain voice: but above all with clothes , the best boundary between you and a cold world.” Steedmann’s mother refrain was “She Was Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage”

{ It’s the same the whole world over

Ani’t it a bleeding shame

It’s the rich what get the pleasure,

It’s the poor what gets the blame.}

Never without a boyfriend, V married  before she was 19 years old and shortly after had her daughter. She left that marriage because she was not satisfied with her husband, She promptly remarried , but grew bored with her second husband ,wanting more. Shortly after leaving her second husband, she met an actor who made a substantial amount of money. For the first time in her life, V had expensive clothes and jewelry She was exposed to many new experience. One such experience was leaving the rural area where she grew up and where all her friends and family were and moving to LA. She had never been in a plane before, nor had seen an ocean. They lived in  a wealthy area of town,. V met some older wealthy women who befriended her and from whom she learned many of the social ways of the wealthy. It’s as if she was in training ;her form of education.  Truly a whole new world, literally and metaphorically a whole terrain opened up for her. “I faked it til I made it….I figured it out.” If she had ever been a bird in a gilded cage, she was now set free.  However, the relationship grew more and more problematic. Her boyfriend became addicted to drugs.and was emotionally very abusive to her. She grew extremely anxious, Although she had had some savings, she didn’t know how her and her daughter would survive without him. She had initiated some earlier separations from him and was just at the cusp of permanently leaving him, when she met her future husband.  .    .

V came into treatment at the urging of her then boyfriend Ted..  He himself had been in therapy for a number of years and he thought it would be helpful to her as well. She had never been in therapy before ,but had tried many self help and alternative  routes to deal with her symptoms. At first a bit reluctant, she became increasingly engaged with me and the process. V knew she had much work to do around her feelings toward her mother and her entire growing up. As she gradually became more comfort able with me, she told me about her numerous emotional difficulties, her recently ended relationship to her abusive boyfriend and her growing love for,  and whirlwind romance with, her new wealthy boyfriend who had recently ended his marriage. Each of them had a child from a former marriage.}  She began to share some of her suffering with me. Despite all the new excitement in her life, she  had moments of heaviness, depression, and anxiety. She had suffered from panic attacks when she first came to LA with her last boyfriend, She said she knew she had a temper and could be irritable and moody at times. Slowly V began to share some of her shameful and guilty feelings with me. Shame, guilt and bad feelings about herself are prominent features of her self organization, and we continue to devote much attention to them, as well as her tendency to quickly  loss her temper when she feels she’s not being  well treated..  Further, she  has had serious premenstrual tension, with a marked alternation of her mood.   Gradually we fashioned a way  to work together, increasing our meetings to three times per week. To my delight I discovered that V had  much more  inner substance than I might have thought. She was neither empty headed  nor  conniving nor any  of the other stereotypes one has about  women who strive to be beautiful, are very invested in their  appearance  and seem only interested in superficial material things., and are clearly interested in marrying “up;”;marrying a man with money  In fact, she is a highly intelligent,, very bright, very curious, thoughtful women with a developing capacity for self reflection and insight and a sense of conscience..  She learns  very quickly, is very ambitious to do, be., and have more.  She has many natural gifts and talents,e.g. her decorating skills, her style, her cooking abilities, her athleticism,  running her household etc. She is a moral person and feels a social responsibility to give back to less advantaged children in the area where she grew up. Although she suffers and struggles, in some fundamental ways I see her as “having a feet on the ground,  rather firmly planted in the soil. She has good sense and the capacity to exercise very sound judgment.  Regarding her new social position , which she adapted to rather impressively, she has made some comments such as” I feel as if  I have gotten all my tokens at Chuckie Cheese, but now where’s my prize? She has had to grapple with being an employer of her household help;something so foreign to her. Recently she said having all this help, especially with the baby, is both “a blessing and a curse.”..


Months into her therapy/analysis with me  V came in sporting a gorgeous diamond  ring ,beaming she said “I hit the jackpot! . It was gigantic It was dazzling and I was dazzled by it! The light reflecting off its many prisms ,if not blinding, was certainly eye catching and strikingly beautiful. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in such close proximity to such a diamond. (Perhaps you can tell that I  very much like diamonds and  visually and viscerally respond to their brilliance.)

Through our three years together, I’ve come to see some of the meanings of the ring for her and for me. She wears the ring all the time’ doesn’t put it aside for special dressy occasions; in fact, wears it with her work out clothes. In the context of talking about “them and us” on day  she held out her hand with her diamond ring and diamond wedding band and thrust it in the air, saying “This is my armour, my jewelery, my clothes, my appearance”. I realized with a start, that I had never conceived of her diamond ring in such a light.  Rather I had been experiencing it as an object of absolute purity, brilliance and beauty; a thing in its own right.

V. She recounted to me, that as she was walking down the aisle , she was saying to herself, “I made it, I made it”. V is very dedicated to her husband and very caretaking, at earlier times, quite excessively so.{  Although fully committed to her, he’s a rather narcissitic man and easily feels wounded if she voices a desire .or an emotional request.} There have been a lot of struggles with blending their families and considerable tension , although  they both have been working on that in addition to each of their conflicts around intimacy.; and they seems to have made remarkable progress..{V has also come to see  and has worked a lot on her wishes and fears of  intimacy . V had a  fairly serious postpartum reaction after the joyous birth of her little boy.  She is presently seeing a psychopharmocologist who has diagnosed her as  having a mild to moderation bi polar disorder..}

V is one of those handful of patients that we all have who we are particularly involved with.  I am very fond of her.  I can honestly say I love her and care about her deeply. Even though we are of different generations and come from such different  psycho eco nomic, social , political backgrounds( indeed this working classes family all idealized Ronald Reagan; He was their hero)and our families had very different dynamics, I have a real empathic appreciation for  what she experienced growing up.and who she is now. I respond to her experience of poverty, physical and emotional abuse and neglect, the thwarting of her desires and over all deprivation. To some extent she is like the invulnable child, who survived despite  all odds. In fact, she describes herself as a “survivior.”living in a war zone. I think I especially resonate to her invulnerability. And her strivings to make things better(albeit in materialistic terms)  I do think that her capacity for “imagining better” helped get her though her life. Of  course  she is not  unscathed; quite the opposite. She is depressed, she does have a  mood disorder (I’m not sure about bi polar). It’s hard for  her to maintain a good enough image of the other   during the times when she feels disappointed in them or by them. It’s as if they turn into an all bad depriving other..

The transference, counter transference is complex and far from fully flushed out. V definitely keeps me at a  distance, as she doe most people. There are disassoociative  parts to her.. We’ve begun exploring the”us”and  the “them” to see how much is alive in the transference. About a year ago, my husband and I were entering a restaurant and I ran into V and her then fiancée.  When we subsequently talked about it, she talked in very positive terms about me going out late in the evening and was pleased and( maybe relieved) to see me having a good time and able to enjoy such a lovely restaurant… It’s important for her to see  and feel that  I’m fine, doing well and able to enjoy my life. At least she doesn’t have to worry about me or take care of me or worry about my making demands on her. She has said a number of time. “I like it when things are good for you. It makes me feel happy….”  She worries about my censure, my judgment of some of the shameful things she’s feels she’s done She fears I will find her to be whiner and a complainer or superficial and too preoccupied with her looks. . She worries I will find her ungrateful and not adequately appreciative of all she has.,ec.Several months ago she had the following dream (10/9/08) Coming in she said “I had a bizaare dream about you. We were in a session, but the setting was different. You were in casual clothes, and someone else was present.  We were having girl talk. You divulged to me you understood what I went through with Johnny (Her previous abusive boyfriend) because you had had something similar. I felt good and happy that you told me something really private and that you trusted me with that. In her associations she said “All the stuff around you felt so real. All that closeness I felt for you- like a breakthrough closeness and even the other person had very nice energy and she was your best friend.  She then went on to associate to one of our last sessions where she said “I felt you were looking out for me and that made me feel closer to you”…” I don’t have people who do that. Never when I was  growing up and T doesn’t stand up for me with his ex..” I’m not feeling heard  He’s not looking out for me…..It’s almost as if you were a mother figure.  You were telling me this…I was in bliss “

In many ways, V has taken to analysis. Talking about things, no matter how shameful and uncomfortable,;making sense of her life, her behavior, her feelings and putting them in perspective without being so judgmental have felt very beneficial. Despite her depression, she seems to thrive on seeing patterns and putting things together in a meaningful way.  She’s a fast learner in every sense of the word and has used her analysis in a very impressive way, making great strides quickly.

Since this presentation is focusing on money , I will share some of my transference feelings regarding her new found  wealth.and altered life style.   There’s quite a range of  feelings I have experienced.;most are transitory; some wax and wane, some persist… One set of feelings I’ve observed in me that arises from time to time is a  sense of feeling less than, smaller. These set of feelings may well mirror the kind of feelings V had during her growing up years, and also tap a particular vulnerability within me.  .These feelings might manifest themselves in different ways.  For ex. I rountinely have fresh flowers in my office that I usually purchase at a local Farmer Mkt. One day the thought drifted through that she employs a person a ½ or whole day just to do the flowers throughout her entire home.  From time to time I can find myself making little comparisons like that, where the  difference between us are quite striking. .My office is in my home and we have been doing some landscaping. Growing up in such a rural area, V likes the outdoors and  nature. She has commended about a new dwarf lemon tree we have planted in quite a beautiful large planter.  . She noticed it wasn’t doing well at first and lately she’s talked about  its growth. She and her husband have embarked on a hugh project to build a large home with a vast amount of acreage near where she grew up. They are in the process of digging a lake, having a farm, growing an orchid. I couldn’t help comparing my one dwarf lemon tree with her acres of soon to be orchards.        Or some times I think about the relative smallness of my house in relation to her grand home. Sometimes I will notice another piece of important jewelry she has, and again compare a similar  piece of jewelry that I might be wearing;, while, it might be lovely, is clearly of a different caliber.

Sometimes I think how much easier life  would be for me if I could have some of the options,  choices  and possibilities that V has. I also jump to thinking about my daughter who is a bit older but close in age to  V, who has a husband and two small children. I think how much easier and freer her life would be if she had even some degree of the financial resources  V has. She wouldn’t have to struggle with money, she could easily send her children to private schools, she could live in a much needed larger house and not have to watch her budget so carefully

Certainly, its not as if  I don’t have friends and other patients who are far wealthier than I., or who have a life that seems more  fortunate and better to me than mine. And I know something about my vulnerability towards feeling envious, jealous, and left out.. But  by and large my envious feelings do not tend to be  of such a heightened nature that they cause me  any major duress, or are beyond what I can reasonably handle for myself.  Nor, do I necessarily always feel envious when others have more. Sometimes it’s essentially no issue at all for me; just a fact. What is unique for me with V is that I’ve never seen up close both the extent of wealth that V has and even more, such a dramatic turn around in her life.

Upon closer consideration even though at times I engage in some of the comparisons I shared with you above, it’s not primarily envy I feel towards V.  What has been tapped in me is far more profound and existential. What I have been forced to acknowledge and work  with is my growing awareness that there will be much that I will never have or experience. My work with V and what it has aroused in me forces me to face my finiteness. My stage of life.  It’s not, as in the past, I could say to myself, I’m not doing it, having it, being it now, but maybe some day, maybe down the road , I will——. It’s about me having to look at possibilities closing off as I get older. Possibilitites narrowing as I move through my life being in my later mid life. It’s sobering, to be sure, but none the less, it’s the necessary task at my time in life. I have to face that  I will never have that ring, literally and figuratively . Earlier,, I might have felt the option was still open for me,.not likely, but——-.  It’s a  weighty  business, but necessary internal work to do for my process of individuation.  I am having to look at my limits. In 1998 Judy Vida and I wrote a paper entitled “As Far As Possible”: Discovering Our Limits And Finding Ourselves”. In that paper we  talked about a particular kind of limit. Namely, when we were no longer able or willing to stretch ourselves in our work with some particularly difficult patients. …(1932 Notes and Fragments).} We concluded in our paper that the “discovery of one’s limits is a vital part of one’s ongoing development as an analyst.”  Transposing those idea a bit, I would say that discovering my existential limits is an unavoidable requirement as one ages, and I am grateful to my patient and to our work together with its particular constellation of challenges that have enable me to look at these limits without  getting in the state of  ego-indebtedness..

As a result of working with V I am having to face my limits of my aroused desire and hungers ( Shade of Henderson the Rain King’s I want, I want..). I have had to see that  some of the opportunities V was having, I would never remotely have.  Possibilities are narrowing. Fortunately I am able to enjoy her possibilities and fully engage my capacities for generativity.; further helping me to move into a state of ego integrity.  I do not feel devastated at looking at my limits, because overall I feel quite fortunate in my life.  I have had, and continue to have a very rich, full,(sometimes too full!) satifying life. Yet again, I’ve had to acknowledge that I am an ordinary human being, full of longing and contradiction.

Working with this patient, and  preparing for this presentation, fortunately  does not end up with my feeling deprived, or less than, or like H C  Anderson’s Little Match Girl hungry and left out in the cold,. Rather, , I feel more appreciative  than ever, for all that I am and have in my life. Further, in exploring my attitude about money  through the process of writing  this paper, I feel I have made some headway in arriving at what Needleman refers to as a “fresh observation of nearly the whole of one’s life”.  Dare I say that in many ways I feel very wealthy!

I conclude with a Kurdish fable, courtesy of Robin Winslow, a Jungian analyst in L A who some 8 years ago gave a presentation about Money.

A Case of Gold
A man is sitting on a rock . Next to him is a case of gold. The man picks  up a coin from the case, studies it, and throws it into the sea. He picks up another coin and does the same thing. . A wise man walking by, stops and asks, what are you doing? I am throwing the coins into the sea. Why ? Because  I am practicing non attachment. The wise man next asks , Why then don’t you throw the whole case in ? The man answered. This attachment I have needs to be struggled with 1000,000 times.

Samoan Barish MSW U.C. Berkeley; DSW USC; PhD New Center for Psychoanalysis; Sanville I. Former Dean & Current Faculty; SCPI Faculty; AAPCSW President; IFPE Board; Private Practice Santa Monica, CA

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